Canadian drugmakers on prowl for global agreements

Wed Apr 7, 2010 4:22pm EDT
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By Scott Anderson

TORONTO (Reuters) - Two Canadian drugmakers, Theratechnologies and Aeterna Zentaris, are looking for partners to market their treatments outside of North America even as they await U.S. regulatory approvals.

Quebec City-based Aeterna has already locked up a North American marketing and partnership agreement with Keryx Biopharmaceuticals for its colon cancer drug, which U.S. regulators put on a fast track for possible approval. That would signal a U.S. launch in 2012.

The company is now looking to strike similar deals in other countries, and it aims to market the drug as a treatment for other forms of cancers, such as multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, as well.

Europe, Australia and emerging countries such as China, Brazil and Indonesia are among its target areas, its Chief Medical Officer Paul Blake said.

"We would like agreements wherever possible," Blake said on the sidelines of an industry conference in Toronto on Wednesday. "I don't think multiple myeloma has a particular geographic niche unlike some diseases. There are fairly standard incidences around the world."

Small biotechs tend to partner with global companies with deep pockets that can help fund the development and marketing of the drug. In return companies such as Aeterna receive royalties or milestones payments.

Theratechnologies, which awaits U.S. approval of its experimental drug to treat excess abdominal fat associated with HIV, is also looking to strike partnership deals.

The Montreal-based company already has a U.S. licensing agreement with Merck KGaA's EMD Serono division and stands to collect about $215 million in milestone payments from Serono if it is approved. It aims to begin marketing the treatment in the United States later this year.   Continued...